Now dropped significantly in class, Balko Des Flos is strongly fancied to make a winning return to action in the 3m 1f Grade 3 Irish Daily Star Chase at Punchestown on Wednesday (16:15).
A winner of the valuable Galway Plate in 2017, this Henry De Bromhead trained eight-year-old went on to enjoy his finest hour at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival when running out an impressive winner of the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase.
After being held-up by Davy Russell, the Gigginstown House Stud owned son of Balko made stealthy headway to take up the running three from home.
He then scooted clear and, despite making a mistake at the last, stayed on strongly to easily beat Un De Sceaux by 4 1/2 lengths.
Balko Des Flos has failed to get his head in six subsequent outings, but they have all been at Grade 1 level and he has run well in defeat on more than one occasion.
They include when a fourth-length third to Min at this venue and a 9 1/4 lengths third to current Cheltenham Gold Cup ante post favourite Kemboy in the Betway Bowl at the Aintree Grand National meeting when last seen in action.
Balko Des Flos lost second place in the dying stride in the latter and the form of that race is extremely strong in relation to this lower grade affair.
The Irish Daily Star Chase is by far the easiest assignment he has faced for a long time. An official rating of 165 gives Balko Des Flos 6lb and upwards in hand on his five rivals.
So, granted a clear round, this looks his for the taking and odds of 5/4 with Bethard are a true reflection of his chances.
Jan Maat the bet in Buck House
De Bromhead and Gigginstown also look to hold leading claims of land the other Grade 3 on the card, the 2m 2f Buck House Novice Chase (15:45) with Jan Maat.
This six-year-old had some fair form as a hurdler and came good at the third time of asking over the larger obstacles when keeping on strongly to readoly beat Cenotuce by 6 1/2 lengths at Tipperary.
He then ran well when pitched into Grade 3 company and finding only Wicklow Brave six lengths too good at Galway, before making that rival pull out all the stops last time out in a novice contest at Listowel when beaten just three-quarters of a length.
The pair pulled 4 3/4 lengths clear of the third home Dinons. That one has since come out and scored impressively by 11 lengths at Limerick to give the form a boost.
Jan Maat is clearly going the right way, has proven form on the forecast ground and a good record under Rachel Blackmore, who has won twice and been placed four times in nine starts on him.
This also looks like a weak renewal of the Buck House, in which a field of only four are set to go to post. Jan Maat looks worth backing at 15/8 with Betfred to land the spoils.
Course specialist Conron worth siding with
Given his excellent record at the venue, the Jessica Harrington trained Conron looks decent each-way value at 16/1 with Coral in the 2m 4f handicap hurdle (15:10).
This five-year-old has won twice and been placed once in three starts over course and distance.
The last of those successes came on this card 12 months ago where the son of Mastercratftsman stayed on strongly to account for Bay Hill by 2 1/2 lengths off a mark of 115.
Conron went on to finish a fine 1 1/4 lengths second of 24 to Musical Slave in a competitive handicap hurdle final here off 122.
He also ran well three starts back at Killarney when a 6 1/4 lengths third of 11 to Darver Star off 3lb higher.
Darver Star is a thriving sort who has since bagged another brace of successes, including when landing a Listed contest off a mark of 145, so that gives the form a solid look.
Conron does now gave to race off a career-high hurdles mark of 126, but that should not be beyond him. The return to his favourite stomping ground has to be a plus.
With Robbie Power in the saddle, Conron looks to have plenty going for him in this and rates a solid each-way betting proposition.